Monthly Archives: October 2014

Three more zoos – USA

Despite what most of you probably think, one can never go to enough zoos! Even though they frequently display similar animals, they are all unique. In December 2012 / January 2013 we visited three very different zoos in the southern USA and thoroughly enjoyed each one.

Audubon Zoo, New Orleans was our first stop. We were staying on St Charles Avenue so we just caught the street car up to Audubon Park. Public transport in New Orleans is so easy and inexpensive. It was an absolutely beautiful winter’s Sunday. The sky was clear and blue and the locals were just enjoying being out in the park with their families. The walk across the park to the zoo was fun. We admired the huge oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss and exclaimed excitedly every time we saw a squirrel! There were lots of them, the sight should have worn thin, but I have a real soft spot for squirrels – they are cute and fascinating to watch bounding around hyperactively and, they have bushy tails!

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Spanish moss hanging from the oak tree, New Orleans

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Paris in the winter-time

“Every time I look down on this timeless town
Whether blue or gray be her skies
Whether loud be her cheers or whether soft be her tears
More and more do I realize

That I love Paris in the spring time
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles”

Cole Porter 1953

To be truthful, I don’t like Paris much at all! This sounds almost sacrilegious and I keep convincing myself that if I go back again it will redeem itself and I will fall in love with it too. This doesn’t sound like the introduction¬† to a best holiday post, does it?

About a week before we were due to go to Paris with the children in January 1996, France was hit by a massive cold snap. The upside of this was that, despite still being bitterly cold, Paris sparkled with ice and snowy remnants.

We had decided that with the kids so young (6 & 9) we would do a ‘speed dating’ type approach to Paris and only visit places they had heard of – in just one day.

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In 2008 we had booked a tour of Turkey with our daughter who was working in England. Whilst planning the trip it was decided we had to go to Jersey to visit the zoo, Durrell, we had to visit Vienna because I love Vienna, I love the music of Strauss and, of course, there is a zoo! My daughter wanted to go to Budapest as she had really enjoyed the book Csardas by Dianne Pearson. Great book, and we had never been to Budapest, so we added it to the list. So the question became, “how do we get from Budapest to Istanbul?” Bucharest seemed an obvious choice, but we couldn’t find a lot to recommend it and after having been in capital cities we thought something more provincial would be nice.

Through a travel site called Responsible Travel , I found a guesthouse, which specialises in eco-tourism, in a small village in Transylvania, that is owned by a ‘real’ count! Images of Dracula and Sesame Street immediately sprang to mind and we were sold.¬† Continue reading